Here in the country beauty and death surround you. Theyíre that close. The hummingbirds whiz in and out sipping the Kool-Aid in the feeder for them. The cat races back and forth in the garden climbing higher and higher in the tree. I see her at the doorway with something in her mouth, itís still struggling. I yell and smack her, and a quail runs away into the garden. It doesnít fly away. I go to see if itís hurt. Ostensibly itís not. Legs not broken, neck not broken. It stands breathing heavily, eyes darting all about. I decide itís just in shock at narrowly escaping death. I talk to it, I point out that itís still alive, it can walk, it can fly, itíll be fine. The cat, of course, canít stay away and comes prowling. I pin her to the ground a foot away from the bird. The bird doesnít move. Still catching its breath. I hesitate to pick it up and move it somewhere safe Ė doesnít human scent ostracize a bird from the pack? I pick up a stick and try to get the bird to stand on it. It jumps slightly, so it does seem to be able to move. It just doesnít want to. Now Iím feeling restless and foolish. How long can I hold back this cat, prevent nature from taking its course? Maybe this is something I need to watch, the dance of predator and prey. The instant I release the cat, the bird flies away, out of reach.

And then: the next day on the path outside the gate is a dead bird, perhaps a quail, perhaps the same one. The head is missing. Do cats eat birdsí heads? The body of the bird has been torn open, and a swarm of bees, perhaps two dozen, partake of it in a literal feeding frenzy. I canít look. I look.

-- Don Shewey, diary entry, 9.23.92

I always think of nature as a great spectacle, somewhat resembling the opera.

-- Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle